WARNING: this post contains repeated use of, and references to, the words: stool, poop, sh*t and bowel movements. If you become easily offended by people (especially women) talking about their poop, or by junior high humor in general, I’d advise you to stop reading. And maybe stop being so anal. Sorry, couldn’t resist.
“You have to do a what?”
“A stool test.”
“Is that, like…poo?”
I started laughing at my boyfriend’s grade school response. Who uses the word poo past the age of 12?
“Yes, it’s poo,” I blushed. You’re totally helping by the way.
“What are you going to do with the test after you collect your ‘sample’.” He couldn’t help chuckling.
“I have to wrap it in this protective padding and then mail it in a special envelope.”
“They send that sh*t through the mail? Ha ha, sh*t–” you are having way too much fun with this. “Man, I feel bad for the mailman.”
I rolled my eyes, grabbed the test kit off my kitchen table and walked into the bathroom.
From the “kit” (which was nothing more than a glorified ziploc bag), I pulled a plastic vial, something that looked like a toilet seat cover, an envelope and a bunch of instructions:
1) Lift up toilet seat. Duh.
2) Place cover under seat so that it covers toilet bowl. Yup.
3) Lower seat and collect sample before the cover touches the toilet water. Ye-wait, what? This thin piece of tissue paper I can practically see through is supposed to catch my bowel movement? Who’s taking these tests? A bunch of rabbits?
Not to be gross, but when I have a bowel movement, my bowels are movin’– you know what I’m saying? There’s no cute little innocent turd floating in the bowl. There’s no sitting on the toilet for 20 minutes to excrete a few pieces of lettuce. When I have to go, I have to go and I’m losing weight while I do it. There was no WAY I would be able to collect a sample using the tools in this so-called kit. Then I read the kicker:
“You must submit with your doctor’s lab order.” Did she give me one? I don’t think she did. I remember her mumbling something about a lab order while she was taking the kit apart to see how it worked (which was a little disconcerting, by the way), but I’m not sure she actually gave me my lab order.
All too willing to give up, I decided to drop by my doctor’s office later that day to a) collect the lab order and b) see if there was any way they could help me conduct the stool test. How they would help me, I had no idea (there was no way I was going to let some lab tech stand over me while I squeezed one out) but I thought they might have something a little more effective in or on which I could catch the stool.
“Oh, no, you’ll have to do that yourself. We don’t have anything that’s not in the kit.”
“Really? You have a cup for people to pee in, you don’t have an alternative for poop?”
The chick in her early 20’s, wearing too much eye makeup for a doctor’s office, grimaced at the thought. “No, I’m sorry.”
Oh? You don’t like the word “poop”? Well, let me say it again.
“But my poop is just going to bust through the tissue paper you gave me.”
The girl swallowed her gag reflex.
“I-I think you should talk to your doctor if you’re having problems performing the test.”
“But what’s she going to do? Stand over me in the bathroom? I mean, what do you do with patients that can’t, you know, go to the bathroom on the toilet? There’s got to be something you can do short of wiping my butt for me.”
The girl’s face turned the color of bile as she directed me to the front desk and she excused herself to the bathroom.
Okay, maybe that was crossing the line, but dude, you work at a doctor’s office, you probably shouldn’t get grossed out so easily.
The front desk person directed me to the blood technician who, after noting cheerfully that I also needed to have my blood drawn, suggested I put four toilet seat covers down at once and then wait until I didn’t think I’d have as big of a bowel movement.
“If you tend to be heavier in the morning, then maybe wait until the afternoon.” She was clearly unphased by my poop talk. “You can also drop the sample off here if you want, instead of mailing it in. We’ll make sure it gets to the lab in a timely manner.”
I collected my lab order and walked to work, deciding the three-stalled bathroom that my office shared with the entire floor was a good place to do this.
I know, I know– “What’s wrong with her?” But in my defense, it was close to the doctor’s office and was the only place I knew that had a plethora of toilet seat covers. It’s not an excuse, but it’s at least an explanation.
Luckily it was still early enough in the day that the toilet lids were raised, indicating no one had used them since they were cleaned the night before. I took this as a good sign. My test shall be sterile and uninterrupted.
I chose the handicapped stall so I’d have room to do my thing, closed the door, pulled a stack of toilet seat covers from the bin and covered the toilet bowl. I lowered the lid and placed another toilet seat cover on top (it might be “clean” but it’s still a public toilet). Then it dawned on me that I had no idea how large of a sample I was supposed to collect or how I was supposed to actually collect it.
If I give them too little, will I have to do it again? If I give them too much, will it spill in the envelope? Ew, that’s gross. Wait, how am I supposed to get it into the vial anyways?
I opened the tiny plastic cylinder and saw a tiny wand that barely fit through an even tinier opening.
Jeez, seems like a lot of work for such a tiny sample. Can they really find anything with that small of an amount?
I was standing in the middle of the stall, doubting the medical profession as a whole when one of my floormates walked into the bathroom. I froze.
Well, this is awkward. Maybe she’ll just take a quick pee and bounce.
But she didn’t. Instead, she stood in front of the mirror and fixed her hair. For five minutes, I watched through the space in the stall doors as she moved her weight from one stilettoed foot to the other, flipping her hands and fluttering her fingers through her hair. Oh come on, who are you trying to impress? I’ve seen the guys you work with.
It felt weird peeping tomming her in the bathroom, but I didn’t have a lot of options. And it’s not like she noticed. I guess self-absorption has its perks.
I figured she’d eventually turn around, get creeped out (because I was literally just standing in the middle of the stall, not moving) and then she’d leave. But of course, this never happened. Instead, she washed her hands (because that’s normal) and then went into the far stall.
I guess I’ll just do this with her here?
My feet were starting to cramp from standing perfectly still in heels, so I moved as quietly as possible to the seat (ever tried to tiptoe in four-inch heels?) and sat down.
Shut up. I jumped as the loudest fart I’d ever heard bounced around the tile room. She actually has no idea I’m here.
I tried stifling a laugh but it just made me cough instead, and then almost by accident, I went to the bathroom. I heard the paper rip and knew there was no way I’d be able to collect a sample.
Well, this has been a giant fail.
I didn’t know who I was more embarrassed for, so I collected my belongings and scooted out of the bathroom as quickly and quietly as possible.
After the debacle in the work bathroom, I avoided the idea of stool tests for three days. Maybe I won’t need to do one?
Then my doctor, Maureen, sent an email with “Status of your stool” in the subject line. Right.
“It’s coming!” I wrote back.
My half-hearted attempts and procrastination had pushed me up against a real deadline– the boyfriend and I were heading up to wine country to celebrate a late Valentine’s Day, and I literally had an hour before we left. Since there was no way I was going to bring the kit with me– “Hey babe, you don’t mind if I go take a test and then carry poop around with us for the rest of the weekend, do you?” It was go time.
I made vegetable juice and coffee, got the kit ready and then waited. And waited. And waited some more. And then, as I was starting to think I really would have to take the test on the road, I felt a rumbling in my stomach. You got this.
And I did. I got it.
“You almost ready?” The boyfriend called from the living room.
“Yup we just have to drop off my test at the doctor’s office and then we can go.”
He made a face.
“What, you want to take it with us?”